Dear Members and Friends,
Today the New York Daily News printed an Op Ed by Greenburger Center Executive Director Cheryl Roberts about the need to rethink the jail closure plan. There are better ways to provide treatment and rehabilitation to people living with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders and to end the cycle of homelessness and incarceration.
The city of Albany recently changed the name of the county jail from the Albany County Correctional Facility to the Albany County Corrections and Rehabilitative Services Center to reflect its broader mission to provide housing and services to homeless people. Most importantly, staff from nonprofit organizations and civilians employed by the Sheriff’s department will provide these services outside of the criminal justice system.
In Florida, over the past two decades, nearly 9,000 people have been referred to a program created by Miami Dade County Judge Steven Leifman to divert individuals with serious mental illnesses away from the criminal justice system and into comprehensive community-based services. Annual recidivism rates among participants went from 75% to 20% and the jail population dropped by 40%, allowing the county to close one of its jails and save $12 million a year.
As New York City finalizes its plan to close Rikers, more diversion and less jails space is needed.
Cheryl Roberts, executive director Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice